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Joe Marshall
May 09, 1977
While the Olympians seemed to be suffering a post-Montreal letdown at the Drake Relays, a couple of unknowns took the opportunity to serve notice that the established stars better not stay down in the dumps for too long
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May 09, 1977

A New Generation Of Blues Fans

While the Olympians seemed to be suffering a post-Montreal letdown at the Drake Relays, a couple of unknowns took the opportunity to serve notice that the established stars better not stay down in the dumps for too long

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Beware the Post-Olympic Blues, a malady that reduces track and field athletes to talk of settling down to sell insurance or buying real estate. The symptoms were evident at last weekend's Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.

There is, however, one breed of track athlete immune to the Post-Olympic Blues: the sprinter. He doesn't have time for them. So while the rest of the track world has been clearing out the cobwebs, Auburn's Harvey Glance and Texas' Johnny Jones have been taking shots at the world record for 100 meters. They squared off at Drake for the first time this year in what was supposed to be the highlight of the young outdoor season. It wasn't. Jones, understandably looking tired, edged Glance, who was bothered by a leg injury. Unfortunately, a Florida State hurdler named Mike Roberson beat both of them. That's what you call the Drake Relays Blues.

Glance and Jones weren't the only ones suffering from them. The previous day Mike Boit and Rick Wohlhuter battled for 799 meters of an 800-meter race, only to be passed at the tape by a bespectacled junior from Oklahoma named Randy Wilson. Let's hit it for another chorus of those Drake Relays Blues.

Interest in the duel between Glance and Jones had been building since the Texas Relays five weeks ago when Jones equaled the 100-meter hand-timed world record of 9.9. Last year the IAAF decided that henceforth only electrically recorded times would count for world records in events up to and including 400 meters. There was electric timing at the Texas Relays but it didn't work. The three backup watches caught Jones in 9.80, 9.85 and 9.94, and for a while it was reported that Jones had run a world record, breaking Jim Hines' electrically timed 9.95. (You throw out the high and low watch and round off the middle one to the nearest tenth.)

Then, a week later, Glance ran a 9.8 hand-timed 100 meters at Auburn. There was electric timing at Auburn also and it didn't work there either. So much for the two best sprints of the year. Electric timing may not only have replaced hand timing, it may also have replaced world records. The backup watches at Auburn got Glance in 9.69, 9.75 and 9.8, which meant the first hand-timed 9.8 in history. The IAAF rule regarding the switch to electric time is foggy, it being unclear whether the change had already taken effect when Jones and Glance performed or wasn't scheduled to take effect until May 1. In the latter case Glance would have the 100-meter record. In either case Jones has nothing. When asked about the situation he said, "I'm more confused about timing than anything else." Amen.

Strength is a key to both Jones' and Glance's success. "I don't believe speed builds speed," says Texas Coach Cleburne Price. "I think strength builds speed." Accordingly, he trains Jones, a running back last football season, as he would a quarter-miler. Glance also believes in strength, but with him it is upper body strength. He is a weight lifter, a 5'7�" 148-pounder who can bench-press 325 pounds. "When I run against taller sprinters, I need something to compensate for those taller legs," he says. "When they put their legs on me, I put my arms on them. The faster you pump your arms the faster your legs move. You need strength in your arms to pump them hard for 100 meters."

Glance also has spring in his legs (he has a 25'9�" long jump this year). However, there wasn't much in his legs last Saturday but a knot. While anchoring a winning 880-yard relay team on Friday—and outrunning Jones in the process—he felt a spasm in his right thigh. He iced down the thigh overnight but couldn't shake the pain while warming up on Saturday. "I knew I shouldn't run," he admitted afterward, stretched out on a training table with an ice pack on his thigh, "but the people came to see me and I didn't want to let them down."

Meanwhile, Jones, as anchor man on three relay teams, was taking part in seven races. When he got to the line for the sixth of them, the sprint against Glance, a 5.8-mph headwind was blowing at them. Glance burst out of the blocks first, but Jones passed him near the finish. Unnoticed in an outside lane, Roberson led most of the way to win in a slow 10.53. Jones did 10.58, Glance 10.61. Naturally, the electric timing worked.

Roberson had raced Jones and Glance before, beating Jones in the 100 and 200 meters in a quadrangular meet at LSU two weeks earlier and tying Glance's 10-flat time while losing to him in a dual meet a week earlier. Roberson is primarily a hurdler, co-holder of the national high school record for 120-yard hurdles (13.2), and will return to his specialty for the rest of the season. A sophomore, he has been sprinting merely to quicken his pace for the 400-meter relay.

While Roberson may fade out of the sprint scene, young Randy Wilson could become a fixture at 800 meters. For the last few years 800-meter races in this country have been the province of Wohlhuter and Kenyan Boit, a graduate student at Stanford. They figured to have last Friday's race pretty much to themselves despite the fact that Wohlhuter, the bronze medalist at Montreal and the world record holder for 880 yards (1:44.1), admits he has been training less this season because he is trying to get his life-insurance career going. "I want to build equity in business as well as on the track" is the way he puts it. He and Boit led the whole way, the latter a step ahead and to the inside. Boit could feel Wohlhuter behind him; Wohlhuter was watching Boit. "I was pulling up on Boit," said Wohlhuter, "when suddenly I looked the other way and—whoompf!—that tall kid passed me. Randy Walker, is that his name? No, Randy Wilson."

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